How to pack light
Our top tips to help you pack light as a feather and arrive at your destination stress-free!
Russell Square, London, at dusk, on a bitterly cold January evening, I’d just gotten off a 20 hour flight, jet lagged and exhausted, thinking only about diving down into a hotel pillow. At that moment, the handle of my giant suitcase snapped off with a great ‘crack’, much to the dismay of the poor porter, who had just struggled for the past 10 minutes to drag it up the stairs of the Regent Hotel. It was then, staring at my broken baggage, far too heavy for me to carry, let alone the porter to even drag, that I realised I had, once again, entirely over packed. Fast forward two years and I can proudly say that I can now lift my luggage off the airport conveyer belt with the ease and grace of a migrating swan. It’s a liberating and satisfying art I have learnt to master the hard way, and I’ve got a few sure fire tips to make sure you don’t have to.
When we ditch what we don’t need, pack light with only the bare essentials and rely on the thrill of destination shopping, packing suddenly becomes a five minute job. And the best part: arriving at your destination as light as a bird, free to start your holiday the moment you step off the plane, with grumblings about your luggage becoming a thing of the past.
1One of each, and take half out
This is where the art of packing evolves into a quite literally a mathematical equation. Lay out everything out you could possibly need or want for your upcoming trip, then ditch half. Six sets of jeans? Take out three, and only one of each type. Four white Ts? Choose two. Two messenger bags? Pick your favourite. You may feel a pang of guilt, as though you’re parting with a friend, but believe me; once you reach your destination you won’t even remember what you left behind. There is nothing more exasperating than carting possessions around in the bottom of a suitcase only to remain there for you to unpack when you get home.
2Shop when you arrive
One thing we often forget is that there are many things we can simply buy at our destination (at a cost less than the penalty for oversized luggage, too!). Shopping when you arrive works particularly well if you have windows of guaranteed leisure time, or you’re visiting somewhere iconic. You will have more space to pack your precious cargo on the return trip, you can choose pieces complimentary to your destination, and you can shop for exactly what you need, however specific that may be. I didn’t have a lightweight beige, squared neckline pull-over in my luggage for the unexpected Paris winter “heatwave”, but conveniently, Forum Des Halles did. And besides, as if I wasn’t going to shop anyway. Perhaps don’t try this however, if you’re headed interstate for three meetings which are scheduled to be sat within a short period of 24 hours. And of course, you would not want to leave to chance anything you know might not be so easy to find at your destination, or you may spend half your trip trying to find it.
3Eliminate “just in case” pieces
Just in case Sydney has an unexpected cold snap in February, just in case you get caught in the rain, or just in case you finally feel the urge to wear that coat you bought three winters ago with tags still attached, are all poor excuses not to pack light. If I haven’t worn it at all during the seasons it’s meant for, I don’t pack it – simple! If it’s not good enough for home, it’s definitely not worthy for a holiday. There are heaters, rain coats and other essentials you’ll actually need and wear, so ignore those voices in your head urging you to throw “just in case” pieces – you will thank yourself later.
Ever heard of travel sets? Clinique, Grown Alchemist and Aesope are all brands that have beautiful travel sets with all the essentials. There is absolutely no sense in lugging a carry-on bag full of beauty products around the state, nation or world if, realistically, you’re only going to use 50ml of each item. Similarly, you will not need your entire cupboard of makeup and hair products on your holiday. Pack light by creating a capsule makeup collection: your favourite foundation and a perfect shade of lipstick may well be the only things you will really need. If you haven’t found the time or motivation to do a facial or hair mask in the past three weeks, chances are you’re unlikely to do it while travelling, so why bother squeezing such room-wasters into your luggage? Also, refer to Point 2 – there are actually some things worth buying when you get to your destination. Prefer a certain L’oreal shampoo? They sell that in other countries too!
5Choose the lightweight option
Even if you think something is too small to make a difference, it’s sometimes surprising how little things add up, and before you know it, you’re 10kg too heavy. One important way to pack light is to find the lighter option to everything you will need. Dont’ forget that the suitcase itself can end up being one of the heftiest things you take on your trip, so opt for a lightweight design, like the Samsonite hard case range. Even for clothes, there is often a lighter option. For example, in our previous article, we talked about the benefit of natural fabrics in your travel wardrobe – a thin cashmere jumper can keep you warmer than a chunky polyester knit.
6Pack shoes strategically
Shoes are among the worst space and weight wasters in luggage, even though, more often than not, we won’t even get a chance to wear them all anyway (unless you’re Esmerelda). Pack light by choosing your shoes strategically. My key to choosing shoes boils down to four basic principles
- I don’t take new shoes I haven’t worn before
- I exclude old shoes I’ve worn too much
- I don’t even consider packing shoes I haven’t worn in the past week, and
- No one should need more than 3 pairs of shoes while travelling!
Following these principles leaves me with my reliable navy or white Converse, my most comfortable statement party shoes, and one other pair suitable to the destination’s season – usually either sandals or boots. It means my travel shoe wardrobe is reliable, tried and tested, and comfortable and familiar. If I do find myself lacking, refer again to Point 2 – it’s as easy as taking a stroll to the boutiques down the road and indulging in a bit of mandatory shoe shopping!